Critical periods (CP) in early post-natal life are periods of plasticity during which the neuronal circuitry is most receptive to environmental stimuli. These early experiences translate to a more permanent and sophisticated neuronal connection in the adult brain systems. Multiple studies have pointed to the development of inhibitory circuitry as one of the central factors for the onset of critical periods. We discuss several molecular mechanisms regulating inhibitory circuit maturation and CP, from gene transcription level to protein signaling level. Also, beyond the level of gene sequences, we briefly consider recent information on dynamic epigenetic regulation of gene expression through histone methylation and acetylation and their implication on timed development of the inhibitory circuitry for the onset of CP.
Keywords: critical period; epigenetics; inhibitory interneurons; parvalbumin; perineuronal nets; plasticity.
© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society for Neurochemistry.